My parents and other adults coped by eating and drinking too much, and laughing at things that didn't seem funny. We were asked to say what we felt grateful for, and I wanted to shout, "Getting out of here!!!" Instead, I mumbled something about being grateful to have food to eat, or heat in the house. Mostly I just sat as quietly as I could until I could be excused from that table.
When I was 11 years old, my younger brother Andrew was born, and joined us at those Thanksgiving dinners. When he was 2, he sat in a highchair in their home, gleefully laughing and slapping his tray. Everyone held their breath as my uncle got more and more agitated at this disruption, until he suddenly screamed just inches from Andrew's little laughing face, "You shut up!!!"
In that instant, my mother leaped up and slammed the table with both of her hands and shouted at my uncle: "You will not speak to any of us this way ever again! Do you hear me?" And she advanced toward him and told him he was a bully, an alcoholic and that his actions would no longer be tolerated. He got very small and quiet, and just nodded his head.
I felt so grateful that my mother was finally able to rise up and speak up for herself and her children, and stop the abuse that had taken place for so long.
My parents are now dead, and I gather now with my "family of choice" and happily eat delicious fish at Thanksgiving. The communications I share are nonviolent and loving. When there are conflicts, they are spoken about and respectfully worked through. Tears are as welcome as laughter, and mistakes are allowed and understood. Humor abounds.
Floating unseen above the tables that I sit at are these words: All feelings welcome and shared here. These words are woven into me, and I practice telling my truth faster, experiencing my feelings deeply and giving thanks at Thanksgiving and every other day.
SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) is a best-selling author and artist, with 16 titles in print and well over 2 million books sold, including the national bestsellers Succulent Wild Woman, Bodacious Book of Succulence, Eat Mangoes Naked, Prosperity Pie, and Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper. Her newest book is Glad No Matter What. Read her blog on Red Room.
Thanksgiving Week Special: I'm Thankful For...
We asked a successful businessman, a former soap opera star, best-selling novelists and other popular writers to share what they are thankful for this year. The articles will run throughout Thanksgiving week.
Monday: A Moment in September -- Jessica Barksdale Inclan
Monday: My Writing Life -- Meg Waite Clayton
Tuesday: Long-Distance Love -- Kathy Briccetti
Tuesday: The Cornucopia of America -- Tina Sloan
Tuesday: A Special Photograph – Tim Wise
Wednesday: Garlic – Crescent Dragonwagon
Wednesday: Expressions of Gratitude -- Jacqueline Winspear
Wednesday: All of My Feelings -- (SARK) Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy
Thursday: Entertaining Strangers -- Pat Montandon
Thursday: Being Home Together -- Kerry Madden
Friday: The Chance to Give Back -- Wally Amos
Friday: A'isha, the Jewel of Medina – Sherry Jones